Demerit Points

Who would have thought it would be so hard? Certainly not me.

How many people know how long demerit points are recorded on your divers licence? This question sent me on a quest worthy of Victorian era explorer on a hunt for the source of the river Nile. Most friends and colleagues think it is 2 years. I was under the impression it was 3 years and it turned out we were all wrong, it is 3 years and 4 months (40 months).

The government website certainly goes to extra ordinary length to make this information difficult to find. Two emails later I finally obtain an answer that is written in English, rather than Corporate.

Dear E,

Thank you or your email.

The period of time that demerit points accrue is currently three years. This was changed from two years in around 1987-89. The law has not changed since then.

Please see the below link to the Roads and Maritime Services website for the most up to date and current information regarding demerit points, offences and penalties.

With regard to the 40 month period, the Police, State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) and the local courts notify the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) of traffic offences committed by licence holders. This information is not normally received until either after the fine is paid or after the appeal date has passed. There is therefore a lag in the time between the actual incident and when the points are recorded on the licence holder’s record.

If a licence holder reaches or exceeds the threshold number that applies for their type of licence in any three-year period, (not three years and four months) the RMS is required to send a notice of suspension.  This three-year period is based on the dates the offences were committed.

An important factor to be aware of is that the law does not limit the counting of demerit points to offences that are less than three years old. What this means is that demerit points do not expire. The record remains, irrespective of the age of the offence, and can therefore be used at any time to initiate a suspension. This means that if a unrestricted licence holder accrued 13 demerit points in a three year period that was five years ago, they can still legally be suspended for it now.

This is where the three years and four months comes in.

The RMS will not count the demerit points for offences that are over 40 months old, so these offences do not appear on the ‘RMS myRecords demerit point enquiry screen’. This therefore stops the situation referred to above from happening.

When the offence you have referred to is more than 40 months old, it will no longer show on the enquiry screen. Therefore, even though the law allows it, a person cannot be suspended if any of the infringements happened more than 40 months ago. This is even if the total of demerit points accrued was 13 and they all happened within a period of three years of each other.

Even though the demerit point’s display for 40 months, an unrestricted licence holder will still only receive notification of a licence suspension if they accrue 13 or more demerit points within any three year period, (not three years and four months) calculated from the offence dates.

So, are we all crystal clear on this?